Thursday, August 1, 2013

Diaspora Kenyans and serious crimes

Kenyans are some of the most travelled, most enterprising, most adventurous and most vulnerable to societal afflictions. They travel overseas for higher education, to look for employment, to do business and to commit crimes. They are gamblers who take major life risks. As a friend once told me, there isn't a single country in the world that Kenyans have not set foot in. And I dare say too, that there isn't a single prison in this universe that has not offered free accommodation to at least one Kenyan.

We have Kenyans serving prison terms in Asia, the Middle East, North America and Europe. Some of them, convicted of murder and drug trafficking have been hanged or awaiting the firing squad, while others are serving long prison terms that could see them spend their entire lives incarcerated in foreign lands. Those who are sentenced for minor infractions such as shop-lifting and assault are usually imprisoned for short periods of time and then released to continue with their venturous lives. Since most court cases overseas are not publicized, folks at home have no idea what has befallen their loved ones, other than the fact that they are abroad and supposedly doing well.

In the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in reported criminal activities involving Kenyans in North America, and significantly, in the United States. Thanks to the New Media, Kenyans at home are now able to follow the travails of their countrymen almost on real time, bringing to their doors a disturbing trend that is engulfing the dignity of good natured diaspora Kenyan citizens and ruining the country's reputation.

Unfortunately, most murders committed by Kenyans in America are against their own close relatives - children, wives or in-laws. A good example is this week's tragic murder of a mother-in-law allegedly by a one 33-year old Ian Muriu. The body of the woman was discovered in a house with multiple gunshot wounds. Muriu then allegedly committed suicide as his screaming wife related to the police the events that led to the gruesome deaths. Muriu was said to be a successful restaurateur and was apparently living well. What got him to kill and then eliminate himself is a question that needs answers.

That double debacle in Georgia is no different from what happened in 2010, in Santa Ana, Orange County, when a Kenyan father killed his young son following a marital dispute with his wife. Gideon Omondi, a 36-year old former engineering student was convicted of first degree murder for that killing, and is now serving a life sentence, plus another 25 years for trying to roast himself with gasoline.

However, of all the crimes I have been able to gather, nothing beats what a 43-year old Kenyan did in Minnesota three years ago. Justus Kebabe cold-bloodedly murdered his wife and three children then attempted to escape with his 4-year old son, who apparently survived. He was sentenced to 76 years in prison. He will be 94 year old before he can expect to be released on parole.

Another Kenyan rotting in an American jail is 34-year old William Karanja who is serving 66 years for raping two under-aged girls and knowingly attempting to infect them with HIV. In sentencing him, the judge called him a sexual predator. A relative of his confirmed that Karanja had a long history of sexual offences dating back from Kenya where similar incidents had been hushed.

But it is not just tom, dick and harry who are succumbing to American justice. An increasing number of church leaders, including priests and pastors, have also been convicted largely on molestation charges. Kenyan churches of different denominations are scattered all over America, and several Catholic churches are headed by Kenyan missionary priests. But not all of the clergy are upright and righteous as per the Bible.

Statistics as to how many Kenyans are languishing in American jails are difficult to get, but a Kenyan who has lived in the country for the past two decades put the number at about 200. Incarcerated are fraudsters, schemers, drug traffickers, physical abusers as well as alleged bizarre killers like the 21-year old former university student who killed his roommate, cut up his body and ate parts of his brain.

The increase in criminality among Kenyans in the diaspora is a matter of grave concern to many, including the "good" Kenyans who want to be left to live a fruitful and productive life. Yet it is difficult to fathom the reasons why people who leave their so-called poor country for a better life in America could turn out to be such anti-social monsters.

I would like to see the Kenya government, through the Embassy in Washington DC and the Consulate in Los Angeles putting more efforts in finding the cause of this serious decline in morals among Kenyans, instead of officials waiting to show up at funeral services when damage had already been done.

And that is my say.